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Tough at the top of New Zealand's batting order

Any way you twist it, opening the batting order has always been the toughest gig in cricket for one simple fact. You are never judged as an individual, always as part of a pair. You might get big score after big score, but if the bloke at the other end constantly fails, you are viewed as being part of something unsuccessful, something flawed. Such is the lot of Black Caps test openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford.

The first time they strode to the crease together, in the first test against England in Dunedin last March, New Zealand cricket looked to have found an opening pair for a new era. Fulton and Rutherford put on 158, setting New Zealand up for an impressive performance to begin their three-match series with England. Consistency has been elusive since. Including that first stand, Fulton and Rutherford have averaged 38.41 per opening partnership in 17 innings.

But remove that first one, however, and the average drops to 30.91, underwhelming when it comes to test cricket. Fulton said the pair are growing in confidence and enjoying the responsibility of laying the platform. "Our job is to score as many runs as we can individually, but our other job is to stay out there as long as you can without losing a wicket," Fulton told Fairfax Media yesterday.

"If we can do that, and make it a bit easier for the likes of Kane [Williamson], Ross [Taylor] and Brendon [McCullum], it's all the better.
"We've seen in the last twelve months the games where Hamish and I have got us off to a good start, most of the time it has led to a good score for the team."

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